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last updated: 10/22/2010

Perception, Transcription, and Sound

Introduction:

      This purpose of this project is to deconstruct the multi-layered music of the didjeridu and examine each of the elements which create the instruments unique sound. The end goal for this type of research is to establish a form of notation and analyses that can, even if only at a basic level, explain didjeridu music. Since previous scholars have either ignored the didjeridu in their transcriptions or created inadequate notations, this work is an integral step for further research.


     This paper is divided into fours main sections: 1) acoustics; 2) rhythm, melody and timbre; 3) perception; and 4) transcription. The acoustic section deals with the actual sounds of the didjeridu, which I have divided into two parts: Sound elements and sound producers. The sound elements consist of the core, fundamental properties that one hears when listening to the music. Sound producers, on the other hand, examines the ways in which the sound elements are produced and affected by the many ways one can alter air flow into the didjeridu.


     The next section describes the concepts of rhythm, melody, and timbre as they apply to the didjeridu. Although each of these ideas are only briefly discussed, they provide an apt framework for how to categorize the music.


     The third section, on perception, examines the ways one hears and understands the music. By describing some of the physical properties of the didjeridu, a more accurate and detailed notation can result.


     The last part of the paper is the actual transcriptions, which offer one manner to write down and describe the music. Although more work needs to be done on how to notate didjeridu music, this will hopefully be seen as a first step in developing non-Western notations to explain non-Western music.


     The methods used for this project consisted of: 1) my learning how to play the didjeridu; 2) my work with other didjeridu players; and 3) my analysis of didjeridu music on the program Sound Scope. The first step was the most important for this project and one that I would encourage other scholars to do in their research. Not only did it allow me to better understand what I was hearing, but it gave me ideas on how I should notate the music. Without learning the instrument, I would not have been able to describe the acoustical and perceptual occurrences of the didjeridu in a detailed manner.


     Working with other musicians also proved extremely valuable as it gave new ideas and thoughts about how to hear and listen to the didjeridu. Since each person perceives the instrument in different ways, working with others is valuable when discussing perception. However, even though it was a benefit to work with the few musicians that I did, further research needs to incorporate other people into the discussion on the didjeridu. This will create a more holistic view of didjeridu music.


     The final research method involved using the SAVAIL lab at the IU Folklore Institute. After taking various samples of musicians playing the didjeridu, I then went to SAVAIL lab and analyzed the material on a program called Sound Scope. Sound Scope allowed me to acoustically see what was occurring within the music. By examining harmonics, frequencies, and formants, I could find better ways to notate the material at hand.

Ultimately, the goal of this research was to offer a means of transcribing and analyzing music that does not fit into Western notation styles. Although this paper only begins to look at one possible alternative notation, it is my hope that an analysis of both what we hear and perceive will give other scholars ideas about how to transcribe different music.

 

Acoustics:

      In trying to understand what one is hearing on the didjeridu, it is necessary to break the sound into its basic elements. There are two ways I approached this: First was to look at the sound as it is produced and the second is to examine the actual sound. The reason for this division is each sound element can be altered and influenced by the way one produces it. For instance, if I played a harmonic on the didjeridu and flicked my tongue quickly against the front of my mouth the tone would become very vibrato or staccato depending on how the tongue was used.

The elements that make up the sound of the didjeridu are the drone, vocals, harmonics, and trumpet. Production of the sound can come from the diaphragm, cheeks, lungs, lips, larynx, mouth and tongue. Each of the sound elements can be affected, in one way or the other, by the means in which one produces the sound.


     The beginning of the didjeridu sound comes from the air that is produced in the lungs. If the lungs are weak and unable to produce a lot of air, then the resulting sound will be poor. This concept was quickly proved to me when I first began playing the didjeridu. A friend of mine, who is a trombone player, came over to my house and began to play with me. His sound was sharp, clear, steady, and loud. All the harmonics and vocalizations were easily audible and ‘understandable’. When I started to play my sound was not as clear and steady. This was partially because of inexperience, but also due to the fact that my lungs were not accustomed to producing the air needed for the didjeridu.


     Once the air is produced, the diaphragm can be used to create large bursts of air. These bursts create a very percussive and rhythmic sound. Dirk Schellberg describes a musician named Andrew Langford who uses the diaphragm as a center for his playing. "His (Andrew) style

can best be characterized by the term ‘percussive’... When Andrew plays, you get the feeling that he is creating the sound deep in his stomach. He told me that he works mainly from the diaphragm," (Schellberg, 45). Although it is difficult to recognize when one is ‘playing’ from the diaphragm, it is an aspect of playing that should be notated, when possible, in the transcription.


      After the diaphragm, air moves into the larynx and throat cavity. As the air passes from the lungs into the throat, the larynx can be used to add certain sounds and harmonics. Dirk Schellberg says, "The open throat produces a harmonic which cannot be heard in normal singing. In principle, it is possible to sing any note, because the path from the larynx to the lips or from the lips to the vibrating column of air in the pipe has virtually no return," (Schellberg, 107; Fletcher, 34). Although we will discuss vocalizations further below, the larynx and throat are still important factors in affecting the sound of the didjeridu.


     It should also be mentioned that the throat can produce a low guttural sound, reminiscent of gargling. This sound can be easily recognized in didjeridu playing, but does not seem to be a common technique in the music.


     Once the air passes out of the throat it moves into the mouth cavity where numerous alterations can occur. First, each persons individual mouth cavity can change the sounds timbral qualities. Although no studies have been done to see how or why it affects the sound, it seems apparent that it plays a large role in sound production. Dirk Schellberg describes an instance when one can use the mouth cavity to alter rhythms: "By increasing and decreasing the size of the mouth cavity, you can create a note which ‘hops up and done’, and is reminiscent of a kangaroo hopping over a key note," (Schellberg, 102).


      The cheeks are the next element that can effect the didjeridu sound. Like the diaphragm, the cheeks can act as a billow to pump bursts of air out of the mouth. This creates a steady rhythm, especially when used with circular breathing. The cheeks can also have an effect on the rest of the mouth by varying the size of the mouth cavity and the amount of tension placed on the lips. A tutorial on how to play the didjeridu said, "By squeezing the cheeks we can change the harmonics of the sound of the didjeridu. Playing the basic drone allowing your cheeks to puff out, then squeeze the cheeks together slowly allowing them to puff out again. A ‘wah-wah’ effect should result." (Didjeridu tutorial)


      The tongue is another feature which has a significant influence on sound production. With the tongue one can create various rhythms simply by altering the shape, tension, and speed at which one flicks the tongue against the front of the mouth. Rhythms such as ‘tu-tu-tu-tu’ can be made by striking the tongue downward against the front of the mouth. If one changes their mouth shape, different sound variations can occur, such as ‘ta-ta-ta-ta’, ‘te-te-te-te’, ‘ka-ka-ka ka’, or any combination of the above (ta-ka-te-ta-ka-da).


      Another aspect of the tongue is its ability to create vibrato when playing harmonics. By placing the tongue towards the bottom front part of the mouth and quickly ‘shuffling’ it back and forth, vibrato will result. Also, the placement of the tongue within the mouth cavity can shift the frequency of the harmonic. Coupled with the lips and jaw, a harmonic can move anywhere from a third to a twelfth above the drone, although the harmonic can only be clearly heard from a fifth to a eleventh.


     The jaw is another feature of the mouth cavity that can alter sound. Unlike all the other examples, the jaw can effect the sound of the whole instrument, including the drone. When playing, one simply has to drop the jaw down a little bit and, with a larger cavity in the mouth, a new, lower pitch, results. The interval between the original drone and the jaw-drop drone can vary with each individual. However, since the player must keep the lips vibrating, it is not possible to ’drop’ the pitch too far, otherwise the sound will stop.


      The last element that can effect the sound before it leaves the body are the lips. The lips are extremely important to the didjeridu because they create the vibrations necessary to produce sound within the chamber of the pipe. By altering the tension, speed of vibration, and the shape of the lips the timbral qualities will also be affected.


     N.H. Fletcher goes into more detail about lips and the didjeridu. He says, "The player’s lips themselves, as in modern brass wind instruments, act as a pressure-controlled valve of the type that is forced open by the blowing pressure, in contrast to woodwind reeds, which are forced closed by the blowing pressure," (Fletcher, 30). He also discusses the amount of resonance that the lips must have for a sound to be produced: "...the natural resonance frequency of the lips...should be approximately equal to one of the resonance frequencies of the tube with its blowing end closed," (Fletcher, 30).


     Once air passes through the lips and leaves the body, it enters into the chamber of the didjeridu where further variation on the sound takes place. Depending on the length and shape of the didjeridu, the pitch can be anywhere from G1 to G2. Generally, the longer the didjeridu the deeper the sound it will create. However, other factors bear heavily on the pitch, such as thickness of the walls, whether the end is cylindrical or not, and how large the openings at either end are. Overall, the drone sounds around 50-100 Hz, while the spectrum of sound can move all the way up to 6,000 Hz.


      Another aspect of the didjeridu which can alter the instruments timbral qualities is the material it is made out of. These days didjeridus can be constructed out of various woods, bamboo, PVC, clay, heavy cardboard, and cactus. Traditionally, didjeridu’s are made out of eucalyptus which have been bored out by termites. This creates a very distinct sound since the chambers that are left behind by the termites alter the over-all sound quality. Most didjeridu players and connoisseurs recognize the termite hollowed instruments as having the more aesthetically-pleasing sound of didjeridu music. Other wood didjeridus that have been carved out on lathes have been described as sounding flat, dull, and muted, while ‘authentic’ didjeridus sound full, bright, and clear.


     One aspect of didjeridu playing, that is an integral aspect of the music, but does not fit into the category of sound producer, is circular breathing. Circular breathing is the idea that as one blows air out of their mouth, they can seal their mouth cavity, continue to push air into the tube with their cheeks, and, at the same time, pull in a quick burst of air through the nose. During this type of breathing, the harmonics drop because it is impossible to maintain tension on the bulging cheeks. Although players can take quick breaths, circular breathing still causes there to be an effect on the overall sound.


     So far I have only discussed the elements that alter and influence the sound of the didjeridu. The actual sounds that are created is the next step in understanding the didjeridu.


     The first, and most obvious, sound of the didjeridu is the drone. The drone, also called the basement note, is the initial pitch created by the didjeridu when one blows into it. Depending on the musician and the instrument, the drone can remain completely in the background of the music or move more to the forefront. One of the most important aspects about the drone is keeping it constant throughout the whole piece. It is not always necessary or even possible to play the drone at a constant unwavering pitch. However, one of the aesthetics in didjeridu playing is having a fairly steady lower note where other sounds are created above it.


     The next sound element of the didjeridu are the harmonics. Each formant that is created is simply an emphasis on specific harmonics within the overtone series of the drone. When players tighten their lips together and places their tongue in the right position they can make one formant stand out above the rest. One can shift which formant is being emphasized by simply moving the tongue in the mouth and tightening or loosening the tension on the lips. It should also be noted that although there are numerous harmonics produced with the drone, not all can be brought out as formants in playing. Formants that are close to the drone will be lost in the overall sound, while these formants that are above a twelfth can not be created.


     A player can also use formants to create words, noises, or letters. By simply changing the shape of the mouth to form either an ‘E’, ‘A’, or ‘O’ one can make those letters be heard in the natural harmonic series. Using those same letters a musician can mouth an ‘E’, ‘A’, ‘O’ combination and have the frequency of the formants fall from an upper harmonic to a lower one. Of course, one can add many varieties to this principle. Any vowel or consonant which one can enunciate will effect the sound of the didjeridu (Didjeridu tutorial). A common pattern based on this principle is the mouthing of words such as ‘Did-Jeri-du’, ‘weed-wack-er’, ‘do-wah-diddy-didy-dumb-diddy-doo’, or any other combination that one can think of. Playing a series of syllables results in rhythmic pulses that can be varied a great deal.



     Alice Moyle, in her work on Aboriginal music from Eastern Arnhem Land, examines some of the harmonic words that a player sounds into the didjeridu. In her collection of field recordings Moyle has didjeridu musicians play a piece for her and then afterwards, without the didjeridu, speak what they say into the didjeridu. By asking the musicians to speak what they are doing, one can hear how they are creating their music. This becomes extremely important later in discussing transcription.


     A third element of the didjeridu sound are vocalizations. Vocalizations can be used over the drone of the didjeridu to create a more varied and interesting sound. To produce this, one only has to use their vocal chords to throw their voice into the instrument without moving the lips. This can be difficult at first, but most accomplished players can take words and noises that we use in every day speaking and employ them on the didjeridu.


     In ‘traditional’ Aboriginal music, sounds of nature and animals were typically used. For instance, the sound of a dingo barking is a common vocalization. To create this sound one only has to make a sound like a dog barking and then, at the end, move the sound into a wolf howl. Other common vocalizations are imitating the sounds of birds (such as the Kookaburra), frogs, insects, or any words that one can think of. Each sound can be used to create different rhythms and effects during playing.


     The last sound that one can employ on the didjeridu is the trumpet (also called the trombone). This is produced by tightly pressing ones lips together and powerfully forcing air through them. If this is done correctly, one should hear a powerful ‘Tu Tu’ sound much like that of a trumpet. One of the difficulties in creating this sound is playing it without breaking the drone. If done correctly, a very percussive sound should result.


Rhythm, Melody, and Timbre:

     As one can see the combination of vocalizations, harmonics, the drone, and the trumpet sound, along with the various ways that one can produce these sounds, results in an infinite number of possibilities on the didjeridu. Although there are some standard techniques and ideas that one uses on the instrument, the better players are the ones who can vary their music in several different ways. Typically, the didjeridu has been thought of as only a rhythmic instrument, but as I have tried to show, various timbral and melodic variations also exist. These three levels of playing, rhythm, melody, and timbre are briefly discussed below.


     Every didjeridu song consists of rhythm in one sense or another. Some musicians who play along with click sticks, singers, or various other instruments keep the rhythm very constant and steady. However, musicians do not always put a strict structure on the music and instead allow the didjeridu to create many different rhythms. Dirk Schellberg says, "In the free rhythms the didjeridu moves entirely independently of the singer’s beat, which is tapped out with clapsticks; it is set in another time. The polyrhythmic style is very common," (Schellberg, 106-107).

As has been shown varying rhythms can be produced in numerous ways. The diaphragm, throat, mouth, cheeks, tongue, and lips can all effect the resulting rhythm. For this reason, people generally characterize the didjeridu as simply a rhythmic instrument. Although, for more the most part, I agree with this sentiment, it also seems possible that it can act as a melodic instrument as well.


     Melody, as explained by the New Grove Dictionary of Music is, "...defined as pitched sounds arranged in musical time in accordance with given cultural conventions and constraints...in some cultures...rhythmic considerations may always have taken precedence over melodic expression," (Sadie, 118). Considering the broadness of this definition, why can’t didjeridu music be melodic? Although the didjeridu is typically employed as a rhythmic instrument, especially when it is playing along with a melodic one, there are times when there appears to be a melody. Like rhythm, the melody tends to be amorphous and difficult to pin down.


      One of the songs transcribed below, however, shows that melody and a constant rhythm can be produced. David Hudson’s song, "My People" is played in a steady 3/4 time with the same melody being played over the rhythm. Although the melody is not as prominent as Western musicians would like, the basic elements of melody still exist; there is a series of pitches which moves in recognizable pattern Other songs, such as the Stephen Kent song transcribed below, do not have the same strict rhythmic and melodic features as Hudson’s piece does. However, one can argue that Kent’s piece contains a melody and, of course, rhythm.


     The last level that needs to be discussed is timbre. Trevor Jones says, "...many different tone-colors are achieved by layering the shape of the mouth cavity and the position of the tongue and by shutting off various parts of the anatomy which act as resonating chambers of the human voice. The variety of sounds thus produced is impossible to describe in words, and must be heard to be believed," (Jones, 9). N.H. Fletcher also explains, "One of the most striking features of skilled didjeridu playing is the extent of timbre variation possible without changes in pitch or loudness. Such variations have much of the character of changes in spoken vowel sounds and enhance the brilliance and variety of the sound during even a single sounding repeat," (Fletcher, 32). Both of these authors describe the immense amount of timbre variation that a didjeridu player can create. Truly, this is one of the attributes that separates an aesthetic from a poor didjeridu sound.


     Describing timbre, as Jones explains, is an extremely difficult task. On any instrument, the qualities and colors that can be produced are wide and varied, and typically don’t receive any notation in transcription. By leaving the timbre elements out of didjeridu transcription, however, there seems to be lack of one of the more prominent features of the instrument.


     Attempts have been made in the following transcriptions to explain the various timbres of the didjeridu. Several problems occur, however, due to the ambiguous words which are used to describe timbre. Clear, bright, guttural are all adjectives that try to explain what the listener is hearing, but they are vague terms, giving the reader little clarity in what a timbre sounds like. Ultimately, as one becomes familiar with didjeridu music certain words will begin to make sense in describing the music. Until that point, there will always be a vagueness in timbral transcription.


Perception:

     One of the difficulties in studying perception is the varying degree to which people hear the same sound. Everyone brings different cultural ideas and epistemes to the same music. Albert Bregman even creates two categories called unlearned and learned segregation. Unlearned influences on segregation result from the, "...fact that there are certain constant properties of the environment that would have to be dealt with by every human everywhere," (Bregman, 38).


     Learned segregation are patterns that individuals learn in their environment. As Bregman says, "Since different environments contain different languages, musics, speakers, animals and so on, the schema-based stream segregation skills of different individuals will come to have strong differences, although they may have certain things in common," (Bregman, 43). As a result, studying and analyzing perception can become a slippery and subjective task.


     In my research I only focused on three ideas under the rubric of sound perception: 1) layering; 2) gap filling; 3) and beating. The first two are extremely important to how we hear didjeridu music. The later, beating, is also a useful concept, but one that does not easily fit under the concept of perception (more on this later). Although there are numerous other ideas that could be applied to didjeridu music, I found these three to be the most concrete to deal with.


     To begin, layering is the idea that there are two or more elements that one can hear in music. These elements, or separate layers, must be perceptually distinct sounds occurring at the same time (Fales and McAdams, 69). If the layers are combined to create one single distinct sound, where the two (or more) layers can not be distinguished from one another then fusion is occurring. Both layering and fusion take place in didjeridu music, which makes transcription even more problematic.


     Most of the time when listening to didjeridu music, however, one can distinguish two separate layers of sound. The drone is always one of these layers while the other layer can vary between formants and vocalizations. There are two problems that can occur in layering: Either there are three sounds occurring and the listener only perceives two of them, or there are two sounds statically moving at the same time resulting in the listener hearing only one sound.


     A didjeridu player can create three sounds by having a drone, adding in moving/vibrating formants and then vocalizations. Perceptually, one can only hear two sounds happening, but three actually exist. Typically, the upper harmonics blend with the drone, since they are a part of the same harmonics series, while the vocalization moves to the forefront. It can almost be compared to having a solo instrument, the vocalization, and the accompaniment, the drone and harmonics.


     This creates problems in notation raising the question, do we notate what we know is there but do not perceive? In my notations, if I knew a third sound existed, I notated it. However, to show that is was not perceptual separable from the music, I placed it behind a primary layer. If, for instance, the vocalization is the primary sound, then the harmonics are placed below, or visually behind, the vocalizations. (See measure 10 of "White Tree" for an example of a vocalization occurring behind the harmonics.)


     The other problem that can occur in layering is that two sounds occur at the same time and neither of them move. Since a listener distinguishes one layer from another by how fast and how far one of the sounds moves over time, layers that do not move can make perceiving the two sounds difficult (See Graph 1.1 and 1.2 to see the movement that takes place in the formants, which makes it easier to hear two distinct layers). Often this will occur when there is a drone and a harmonic moving statically over time. Although it is impossible to keep two sounds constant for too long, in the times that a player does, it seems important to notate this. For this reason, the transcriptions that I have done never have a break in the harmonic line, since it is rare that it is broken.


     Gap filling is another concept that can be applied to the didjeridu. This is the idea that, even though there may be breaks/gaps in the music (or in one of the layers of the music), the listener will never hear a break in sound. Within didjeridu music, the drone is often heard as continuing straight through the music. This, of course, makes sense, since the various sounds of the didjeridu are built from the initial drone.

With computer analysis, however, I found a few instances where the drone was actually broken into segments with small portions missing. One of the best instances is when the trumpet sound is used. Since the trumpet sound is created by the musician keeping his/her lips tightly pressed together without letting them move, there is no way that a drone can be sounded. With a good musician, the listener does not notice the break up in the drone, which sounds instead as if it is running straight through the trumpet sound.


     Using Sound Scope, I took an instance where the drone appeared to remain under the trumpet sound and analyzed it. The results appeared as Graph 1.3 and clearly shows the gaps in the drone. The trumpet sound covers the breaks which makes the drone sound as if it is being masked, rather then as if it is being stopped. Although the trumpet sound did not appear in either of the two transcriptions that I did, these gaps in the drone should be notated. This seems appropriate for analysis purposes, because it shows the reader that the drone is not actually constant.

Another instance where the drone does not remain constant is when vocalizations are mouthed slowly into the didjeridu. If, for instance, one where to say ‘Did-jer-I-du’, after each syllable there would be a break in the drone. This can be seen in Graph 1.4. This also would be notated, since it shows what the listener is actually hearing.


     The final concept that I applied to listening to the didjeridu was beating. Beating is the idea that as two frequencies move close enough to each other (a m3 or less) their waves will ‘beat’ against one another and create a pulsing sound. To picture this, one only has to think of two sine waves moving near each other where the crests of the waves continually ‘hit’ one another.


     Within didjeridu music, one can either beat against the drone with the harmonics or vocalizations, or one can beat against the upper harmonics with the vocalizations. When this technique is employed, one feels quick vibrations being produced where it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the two sounds that are beating against one another. For a good example of beating in transcription see measure 21 and 22.

Although I have only touched on a few concepts within the field of perception, these ideas will hopefully provide an initial framework for understanding the didjeridu. Further research would need to focus on the area of perception to discover the numerous minute details that this study left out. Several experiments should be done with people knowledgeable about the didjeridu in order for there to be a more comprehensive understanding of the instrument. This will aid in improving the transcription and analysis of didjeridu music.


Transcriptions:

     The manner in which I approached these transcriptions was not to produce music that could be learned and played by other musicians, but material that could be examined by someone interested in the ‘building blocks’ of didjeridu music. Each notation is my own perspective on how the music sounds, which, of course, can be easily debated. However, these transcriptions offer an alternative manner to examining didjeridu music.

The two songs that I notated were David Hudson’s "My People" and Stephen Kent’s "White Tree". Both songs are for solo didjeridu, but vary widely musically. I transcribed these songs from CD, whose production offered both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand, the CD offers a very clear means of hearing the music. Also, most CD players allow the transcriber to fast-forward and rewind quickly and easily throughout the piece. There is also a draw-back to CD’s in that they are often very produced. Hudson’s song, for instance, uses reverb and his breathing has been omitted from the recording. Although I can guess where his breathing is, because of the strict structure of the song, one can not be positive since the breaths are not audible.


     For these transcriptions I decided to use color as a means for representing the different elements of the didjeridu. The drone is represented by a blue line, the formants by an orange line, and vocalizations by a green line. Another color, violet, was also added to show various instances where vibrato, beating, or quick pulsing occurred (The differences of each are explained below). Ideally, one might want to use several other colors to show the different timbres that are produced. I felt, however, that this was not only a cumbersome form of notation, but made it very difficult for the reader to understand what was going on.


     One of the ways in which I tried to notate timbre was by labeling how each element was produced. This means explaining if the cheeks, tongue, or diaphragm are being used in making a certain sound. Although each of these forms of production have various timbral qualities within themselves, for now it seemed best to simply group different timbres into categories of how they are produced.

Breath markings have been placed in the piece even though they are inaudible on the CD. For the most part, I had to learn how to play "My People" and figure out when the best place to breath was. During the repeated 3/4 sections, the middle section is the only place where he can breath. Elsewhere, the breath markings are completely subjective.


     After the 55 repeated measures, Hudson moves the song into a steady 4 second stream of sound. He then returns to the 3/4 section, and repeats this pattern again and again for 7.5 minutes. Unlike Kent’s piece, it seems that "My People" is more an example of how the didjeridu may have been employed as an accompaniment instrument. Keeping a steady rhythm may have helped dancers and singers create their music in traditional Aboriginal music. Although didjeridu players often created structureless accompaniments, "My People" may be an example of a typically structured piece.


Conclusion:

     The purpose of this research was to create a better understanding of what we are hearing when listening to didjeridu music and, from this knowledge, create a means for transcription. Although there are several problems in the transcriptions, a first step has been made to visualize what we are hearing with the didjeridu. This is extremely beneficial, since there has been an increased interest in the didjeridu during the past few years, while little research exists to accompany it.


     In the future, research should continue to expand upon a perceptual and acoustical understanding of the didjeridu, while at the same time bringing in studies of performance and culture as it pertains to the didjeridu. Since there are numerous changes taking place as the didjeridu moves from being simply an Aboriginal instrument to a world-wide phenomena, understanding cultural differences in playing styles can provide a more holistic view of the didjeridu. Further, studying performance provides one of the best means for determining notation techniques, such as breathing, which is unique to each individual musician.


     In sum, the didjeridu is a complex series of sounds that are often difficult to explain. In this research I have tried to break the music into certain categories (acoustics, perception, rhythm, melody, timbre) which aid in understanding the music as a whole. Hopefully, this research will benefit others attempting to create new ideas in transcription and those who are trying to understand the music of the didjeridu.




Bibliography:

Breen, Marcus ed., Our Place, Our Music, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1989.

Bregman, Albert S., Auditory Scene Analysis, MIT Press, Mass., 1990.

Ellis, Catherine, Aboriginal Music Making, Adelaide, Australia, 1964.

Ellis, Catherine, Aboriginal Music: Cross-Cultural Experiences from South Australia, University of Queensland Press, New York, 1985.

Ellis, Catherine, "Power-Laden Australian Aboriginal Songs," Worlds of Music, 1994, 36(1): pgs 1.

Fales, Nina, and Stephen McAdams, "The Fusion and Layering of Noise and Tone: Implications for Timbre in African Instruments,"Leonardo Music Journal, Vol. 4, 1994: pp 69-77.

Fletcher, N.H., "Acoustics of the Australien Aboriginal Didjeridu", Australian Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, A.C.T., no1, 1983: pgs 28-37.

Jones, Trevor, "Arnhem Land Music," Oceania, Sydney, 1956, vol 26, pgs 252-251.

Jones, Trevor, "Arnhem Land Music," Oceania, Sydney, 1956, vol 28, pgs 1-31.

Jones, Trevor, "The didjeridu," Studies in Music, 1967, University of Washington, 1, pgs 23-55.

Lampton, Arthur, "Aboriginal Music Students’ Views on Aboriginal Music Research," Worlds of Music, 1994, 36(1): pgs 21-40..

Magowan, Fiona, "The Land is Our Marr (Essence), It Stays Forever," in Stokes, Martin, Ethnicity, Identity, and Music, Berg, 1994.

Neuenfeld, K, "The Didjeridu and the Overdub," Perfect Beat, vol 1: pgs 60-77.

Roach, Steve, "Australian Didjeridu Sound," Down Beat, 1992, vol 59(4): pp14.

Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan Publisher Limited, London, 1980.

Schellberg, Dirk, Didgeridoo: Ritual Origins and Playing Techniques, Binkey Kok Publications, Holland, 1993.

Wild, Stephen, "Reflections on Aboriginal Field Research in Aboriginal Australia," Worlds of Music, 1994, 36(1): pgs 51-58.

 

Interviews:

Aunger, Prue, personal interview, 10/4/96.

Kyle Wicks, personal interviews, 10/15/96-12/10/96

 

Web Sites:

Dreamtime.



last updated: 10/22/2010